GDP: $4.9 billion, GDP per head: $76,400 (first
Key industries: financial services and tourism
Associate member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
445. Bermuda, a group of about 138 islands and
islets, lies 570 miles east of the coast of North Carolina. The
eight main islands form a chain about 22 miles long, interconnected
by bridges and causeways. The warming effect of the Gulf Stream
makes Bermuda the most northerly group of coral islands in the
446. Bermuda is the oldest Overseas Territory,
acquired in 1612 when King James I and VI extended the charter
of the Virginia Company to include them. The islands, which became
known as Somers Islands, were bought about 1615 by some entrepreneurs
from the City of London. The settlers became weary of the restrictions
imposed on them by the Virginia Company and its successor the
Bermuda Company. They took their case to London and in 1684 the
company's charter was annulled, and government passed to the Crown.
As elsewhere in the British Empire, slavery was abolished in Bermuda
in August 1834.
447. Bermuda's bicameral Parliament, which first
met in 1620, is the oldest legislature in the Commonwealth outside
the British Isles. Bermuda has a high degree of control over its
own affairs. The Premier has complete responsibility for choosing
the Cabinet, which must include at least six other members of
the legislature, and allocating portfolios. The Governor does
not attend Cabinet meetings, though he retains responsibility
for external affairs, defence, internal security and the police.
Unlike most Overseas Territories, where the Governor has certain
reserved powers, the UK can only legislate for Bermuda by Act
of Parliament, or by Order in Council under an Act of Parliament.
Bermuda also has "standing entrustments" which allow
it to negotiate treaties in certain areas.
448. The PLP (Progressive Labour Party) government
came into power in 2003. On 27 October 2006 the PLP elected a
new party leader - Dr Ewart Brown, who was sworn in as Premier
on 30 October. The last general election was held on 18 December
2007. The PLP won 22 seats in the House of Assembly to the United
Bermuda Party (UBP)'s 14.
449. We received evidence from 29 individuals
or organisations in Bermuda, including the opposition and the
Voters' Rights Association.
450. A delegation of the Committee visited Bermuda
in March 2008.
- We recommend that the Government
sets out in its response to this Report the steps it has taken
to ensure that allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing
Corporation, in the issuing of contracts, and of electoral fraud
in Bermuda are properly investigated. We also recommend that the
Government should encourage the Bermuda government to strengthen
its transparency measures, including by establishing an independent
Electoral Commission and ending the practice of Committees of
the House of Assembly sitting in camera. (see para 214)
- We recommend that the Government should take
steps to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
or gender status is made illegal in all Overseas Territories.
- We conclude that although extending voting rights
to non-Belongers will be politically difficult for Overseas Territory
governments, the Government should at least encourage local administrations
to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided
in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. We recommend
that the Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights
be an agenda item for the next OTCC. (para 275)
- We recommend that the Government should encourage
the Bermuda government to move away from conscription and towards
the Bermuda Regiment becoming a more professional organisation,
with voluntary and paid elements. We conclude that this could
make serving in the Regiment more attractive, giving it the staffing
resources required to extend into maritime duties. (para 285)
- We recommend that the FCO should encourage Bermuda,
the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Gibraltar
to continue to make progress in improving financial regulation,
in particular in arrangements for investigating money laundering.
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